Central Missouri catcher Matt Molbury stood up and told his infielders and outfielders take one full step back. Turns out, he wasted his time.
Northeastern State’s Cody Robinson sent the next pitch from Grant Gavin over the left-field wall to where no one could catch it. Robinson unleashed on a 2-2 fastball and notched his second home run of the game — a three-run shot — giving Northeastern State the lead for good in what turned out to be a 5-4 victory at Rousey Field.
“That’s my pitch,” said Robinson, who finished three-for-three with four runs batted in. “I like it right in that zone. He gave it to me, and I made him pay for it.”
The one-run victory for NSU helped the RiverHawks earn a split in the doubleheader on Thursday afternoon. Central Missouri picked up a 3-1 victory in the first game.
But NSU atoned for the loss with two swings of the bat by Robinson, who now has five home runs in 11 games for the RiverHawks (4-7, 1-5 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association).
However, Robinson’s crushing blow was made possible by his teammates reaching base. With NSU trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Mitch Stevenson led off with a double and scored on a throwing error after Andrew Walker laid down a bunt. Walker would make his way to third and Ryan Staggs walked, setting up Robinson’s back-breaking at-bat.
Unlike Robinson’s towering shot to lead off the fourth inning, Robinson smacked a line drive right over the left-center field wall.
“I wasn’t quite sure if it was high enough,” Robinson said. “But the wind kicked in and helped me out a little bit.”
Then NSU’s pitching staff helped out the rest of the way. Despite giving up a run on Trevor Jones’ triple to center field in the sixth inning, NSU’s trio of Bobby Sehgal, Addison Williams and Seth Hudson prevented the Mules (7-6, 4-2) from tying the game up.
“I was very proud of the defense the entire day,” NSU coach Travis Janssen said. “The bullpen seems to be a constant for us right now...the bullpen settled everything down. Along with Cody Robinson swinging the bat, that was the key to winning the game.”
Seth Hudson pitched the final inning and a third for the RiverHawks and earned his third save of the year. The only blemish on his stat line was a lead-off walk to Tony Sandifer in the seventh.
Sehgal picked up the win for NSU after tossing three innings while giving up two runs on two hits.
Gavin was tagged with the loss for Central Missouri. Over the final 1 2/3 innings, he gave up two runs (both earned) on one hit. Gavin inherited one of Kurtis Schuyler’s runners and allowed the run to score on Robinson’s game-altering blast.